Category Archives: Pipeline Route

Coalition Voices Concern about Atlantic Coast Pipeline

The Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks is a non-profit organization composed of retired, former, or current employees of the National Park Service that studies, educates, speaks, and acts for the preservation of our National Park System. On November 12, 2018, Philip A. Francis, Jr., Chair of the Coalition and a former superintendent of the Blue Ridge Parkway, wrote to the Acting Director of the National Park Service on behalf of the Coalition “to express our concern about the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the permit that the National Park Service has granted to allow a natural gas pipeline to cross the Appalachian Trail and the Blue Ridge Parkway.”

In his letter, Mr. Francis says, “There is no evidence that impacts to the critical views enjoyed by millions of Parkway visitors were considered in this decision. There also is no indication that the Service considered the cumulative effects of this action on visitors’ enjoyment of Parkway resources, the impact to the hundreds of businesses that benefit from the millions of visitors with an economic impact exceeding $1 billion annually, or the precedent that this decision would create that could lead to further deterioration of Parkway views. This decision is contrary to decades of past decisions made by superintendents of the Parkway, and the National Park Service.”

The NPS Organic Act requires the Park Service to “provide for the enjoyment of the same by such means and in such manner as to leave them unimpaired for future generations,” and Francis cites numerous examples of ways in which Parkway staff have worked over time to protect the Parkway for current and future visitors.

“Nothing should be done in derogation of park values. Decisions that adversely affect Parkway scenic views are actions that result in derogation of park values, which impact visitor experiences and potentially have an adverse effect to the economies of at least the 29 counties in Virginia and North Carolina. The Park Service has failed to properly administer the requirements provided by NPS policy and law, and the use of a categorical exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act to authorize this permit for the pipeline is inappropriate and appears to have been made to accomplish political goals instead.”

On behalf of the Coalition, Francis “respectfully requests that the National Park Service reconsider its decision on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline by, as an initial matter, holding a scoping procedure to consider what level of NEPA compliance is necessary and obtaining the input of the public.”

Read the full letter here.

ABRA-CSI Seeks Help with Aerial Photo Review

Pipeline construction at Grassy Run in Upshur County, West Virginia. An example of the kind of photos that photo reviewers would be examining.

A request from Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance (ABRA):

ABRA’s Pipeline Compliance Surveillance (CSI) program is seeking assistance from knowledgeable individuals who can participate as CSI Aerial Photo Reviewers. Although we especially seek the help of professionals with erosion and sediment control, stormwater management, and other water-resource backgrounds, the involvement of others is welcomed and encouraged. Aerial Photo Reviewers will perform the important task of reviewing aerial imagery and other information related to Atlantic Coast Pipeline construction in order to evaluate both compliance with regulatory requirements and the effectiveness of runoff control measures.

The Pipeline Air Force is currently obtaining hundreds of aerial photos of the 200-mile western mountainous section of the ACP construction route every one-to-two weeks. The photos, along with approved project construction plans and information concerning environmental requirements, can be accessed using the online CSI Mapping System and through the CSI website. Aerial Photo Reviewers will be able to work from any location with access to the internet. See the CSI Aerial Photo Reviewer Guidebook for an overview.

If you are interested in becoming a reviewer, please click here.

MVP Loses Key Water Crossing Permit

On October 19, 2018, the Pittsburgh District of the Army Corps of Engineers suspended a third permit that the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) must have to build through waterways in Wetzel and Harrison Counties in West Virginia.

This is the third invalidation or suspension of MVP’s water crossing permits. On October 2, a federal appeals court vacated a similar permit for the rest of the West Virginia route, and the approval covering the more than 500 crossings on the Virginia portion of the route has also been suspended. Although MVP now has no authority to build through any waterbodies, streams, or wetlands on its entire 303 mile route, intensive construction continues in places between streams.

Opponents are calling on FERC to issue a stop work order, since FERC’s order approving the project requires that all permits be in place for construction to take place anywhere along its 303-mile route, and the necessary permits are clearly no longer in place.

Read the Roanoke Times report here.

Read the Appalachian Mountain Advocates release here.

Spruce Creek Camp: Report on Final Weekend


Oct. 22nd, 2018, For Immediate Release
Contact: Jill Averitt 434-262-3417, sprucecreekgathering@gmail.com

Spruce Creek Camp Weekend 3: Camptivists Gather on Land Threatened by ACP

Activists opposed to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) invited the public to camp on property in its path the first three weekends in October to learn why Nelson County residents are fighting to prevent its construction.

During the final weekend of camp, attendees heard talks and presentations from a number of Nelson County citizen experts, toured local properties that would be affected by the pipeline, and participated in workshops and discussions.

Host landowner and anti-pipeline activist Richard Averitt described the camp property and his family’s plans to build an eco-resort there. He led a tour of the site and showed the group the deleterious effects the ACP would have on the Spruce Creek waterbody. He also showed a slide presentation he recently gave to a Congressional hearing on how this destructive project has affected his family both on camp land and where his family has residences.

Charlie Hickox, Friends of Nelson board member, presented a brief history of Nelson and described the devastating effects Hurricane Camille had on the county, due to the intense rain and landslides that resulted in 124 Nelson citizens losing their lives. He emphasized that the unstable soils on our steep slopes, coupled with extreme precipitation events (brought on by climate change) have a high probability of failing again during or after construction of a 42” diameter pipeline. Such integrity failure would most likely result in explosions and fire due to the volatile nature of natural gas put under 1400 + psi pressure.

Joyce Burton, Friends of Nelson land owner liaison, described how individual properties in the immediate vicinity would be impacted by the pipeline. Effects include contamination of drinking water, wetland and stream bed degradation, ridgetop and old growth tree removal, the economic impact on a newly built country inn, and in one case, elimination of an entire residence due to the proximity of the ACP pipe to its septic and water systems.

In the afternoon Joyce hiked with camptivists up Robert’s Mountain to see just how steep one of these ridges that the pipeline is proposed to go though actually is. Participants got to see firsthand the narrow slope that would be significantly “reduced” in height.

Mike Tabony, local resident, school lecturer, and frequent writer of letters to the editor to local newspapers, gave a detailed slide presentation on Climate Change and Global Warming. One point he made was that increasing global temperatures result in catastrophic sea level rise with major implications for Virginia’s coast line, especially in the heavily populated Norfolk/Hampton Roads area where one segment of the ACP is proposed to end.

Lara Gastinger, an internationally recognized botanical illustrator and lead illustrator of the book, Flora of Virginia, presented a workshop on illustrating and journaling plants. Participants walked the Averitt’s property collecting plant materials and then sketched and painted them using fine point pens and watercolors.

Weston Mathews, Rector of Grace Episcopal Church in The Plains, Virginia and co-director of the Interfaith Alliance for Climate Justice (IACJ), gave an insightful talk on the necessity for action and collaboration beyond borders of Nelson County, expanding the notion of what it means to relate to someone as a neighbor. His IACJ organization generously funds Native Americans under duress due to climate events, bail for arrested protesters, and supports many other environmental justice organizations and activities.

Ben Cunningham from the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition (DPMC) presented and demonstrated the Pipeline CSI mapping application and made a request for volunteers to monitor and report violations of erosion controls and water quality protections found during pipeline construction.

Doug Wellman, vice president of Friends of Nelson, discussed local alternatives to gas and coal power generation. Roof top solar projects exist in the county on residences, schools and community centers. There are also solar alternative projects being done by the utilities and electric coops themselves, as well as many nearby commercial projects. The energy source profile is changing but many laws and regulations still need to catch up. Sadly, off-shore wind, a stable energy source in many European countries, is just now beginning to be implemented in Virginia. Doug reminded us that energy conservation remains an effective strategy, especially for low income residents who would directly benefit from paying smaller utility bills.

Ernie Reed, former president of Friends of Nelson and current member of the Nelson County Board of Supervisors, showed the group a recent Powerpoint presentation he made to Sweet Briar students. Later he discussed how the attendees could influence decision makers and the media in this fight, and the importance of continuing to mount legal challenges. He advocated having as many tools as possible to fight pipelines in order to preserve our environment and property rights.

Susan McSwain, a Nelson County master naturalist, led the group on a nature walk where she identified native and invasive plants.

The weekend camping events brought together people from Oregon, Wisconsin, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Maryland, as well as from many cities and counties in Virginia. Participants learned about Nelson County, its history, natural resources, beauty, susceptibility to landslides, and the vulnerabilities to its tourism businesses. Campers were briefed by our knowledgeable citizen task force on the lack of property rights, legal matters now in the courts, the deleterious effects of pipelines on local flora and fauna, and, finally, on the reasons why this project is totally unnecessary. Natural gas demand in the Commonwealth is flat and alternatives such as solar, offshore wind and conservation have become much more attractive and competitive. As Nelson has stated from the beginning of this struggle: No Pipeline.

MVP Dumps on Blackberry Botanicals


Beth and Neil LaFerriere from Blackberry Botanicals in West Virginia spoke to the attendees at the second weekend of Spruce Creek Camp about their family and land’s repeated bombardment by helicopters with grass/fertilizer pellets.

Because of this unwarranted and illegal action, they will lose their farm’s organic certification for three years, severely affecting their chief source of income. Neil has posted this YouTube video version of their talk at Spruce Creek Camp.